So there I was, cruising down the highway at sixty-five, and there he was–a turtle stomping determinedly across the highway.
There is only ever one way this ends, and it is bad for the turtle, so I slammed on the brakes, pulled over, threw on my hazards, scurried across two lanes of (thankfully sparse) traffic, and pounced.
He* was a handsome yellow-eared slider, shell about the size of my hand, smaller than some of the sliders I’ve met. He expressed his gratitude for the rescue by hissing at me, flailing his sharply clawed little feet, and attempting to pee all over me.
Fortunately, I’ve done this a couple of times now, and I’m familiar with this trick. He missed my clothes, but there wasn’t much to be done about my hands, since I was holding his carapace in back, well away from the jaws. I sighed and waited for my next opening in traffic.
“You’re supposed to pull into your shell when you’re scared, dude.”
He hissed another chelonian obscenity at me and peed some more. The bladder capacity of a furious turtle is truly an impressive thing.
I got back to the car, and was faced with a dilemma. I could continue holding the turtle in my left hand, steering with my right, until I got to wherever I was going–undoubtedly soaked in turtle urine and badly clawed, assuming I didn’t have to do any sharp turns, in which case I was going to drop a furious turtle in my crotch–or I could let him loose in the car.
This wasn’t much of a choice. I dropped Turtle-Bob in the passenger foot well and started looking for a place to leave him.
Normally I would do my best to take him across the road to wherever he’d been going, or return him deeply enough into his home territory that he wouldn’t wander on to the road again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good spot for it, and even if he got across the OTHER chunk of the divided highway, he’d find himself in road construction and not at all a good spot for turtles.
No help for it. Time to find Turtle-Bob a new home.
Fortunately there’s a large greenway behind the shopping center that I was coming up on, and I made for that. The turtle sulked around the footwell, considered climbing under the dashboard–“Oh god, no! Don’t do that!”–trundled under the seat a bit, and finally settled grumpily next to the passenger door, probably peeing on my floor mats along the way. Fortunately, this was an easy place to grab him. I parked (semi-illegally) in the greenway entrance, since it was that or leave the car at a blind corner with the hazards on, and took my turtle in.
He clawed me some more. “This would be easier if you were a box turtle,” I told him. “I rescued a box turtle a couple weeks ago, and he didn’t pee on me or anything.”
He hissed his opinion of smarmy box turtles and managed to shake a couple more drops out of his bladder.
It’s not the prettiest greenway, but it does have a couple of large water holding areas where sunning turtles congregate, and if you go back far enough, there’s an overgrown stream. I figured Turtle-Bob could probably find his own way, so once I was well away from the road, I set him down somewhere with wildflowers and dragonflies and long grass–the sort of place a human figures a turtle would like, and a turtle probably thinks is a lousy neighborhood, but you can only do so much.
So good luck, Turtle-Bob! I hope you adapt to your new digs okay.
*Actually, he was probably a she, since the females are generally the ones trucking around in late spring looking for a place to lay eggs, but in my world, reptiles are generally “he.”